No, I didn’t grow up in the 60s. No, I haven’t experienced racial segregation. But, I deal with race on a daily basis.
At School: At UNC, diversity isn’t just encouraged, it’s expected. The campus is a melting pot of different colors, creeds and cultures so it is impossible not to run into someone from a different social background. This is what makes campus life beautiful – the experience of other cultures. I don’t want to be cliche and say that college has been “an eye opening experience,” but it kind of has been. I have been exposed to social groups that I new very little about in high school – particularly the LGBT community. I have learned more about these groups and how they are different. But more importantly, I’ve learned how they are the same as me.
At Work: Working at a restaurant has more than its fair share of social interaction. I encounter all sorts of people from all different social, economic and racial backgrounds. I learn that these people sometimes communicate in a different way and that you have to approach the conversation like that. It has bettered my skills as a communicator as well as shown me the nuances of different types of people – or at least the types that are in Matthews, NC.
What all this means: I have been blessed to be in the position that I am. I get to experience life like some can’t. While some people are off in their monochromatic town, I am in Chapel Hill absorbing different cultures and becoming a more well-rounded individual with an open mind. Dr. King has allowed this to happen. He has helped to level the playing field – which was severely tilted – in order to allow the dispersal of thoughts and ideas to different groups of people so that we could all live together better. I strongly believe that it’s not a stretch to say that as a White middle-class male Dr. King changed my life for the best.